May 12, 2003
Colonial Williamsburg's Memorial Day Ceremonies Honor Two Centuries of Military War Dead Including the Most Recent U. S. and British Casualties
Colonial Williamsburg’s Memorial Day ceremonies this year will honor all military personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this nation, including those who recently perished in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The tribute to those who gave their lives for our liberties begins at 10 a.m. Monday, May 26 at the Governor’s Palace.
The hour-long ceremony begins in front of the Governor’s Palace to recognize the graves of 140 Revolutionary War dead with music by Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums, cannon salutes fired by costumed colonial militia and a Revolutionary War-era honor guard. During the 1781 siege of Yorktown, the Governor’s Palace served as a Continental Army field hospital.
Following placement of a memorial wreath at the plaque marking the graves of soldiers who died of wounds sustained during the siege, participants march on Palace Green to Bruton Parish Church. There, a wreath is offered to a representative of Bruton Parish Church, who will lead prayers in memory of the war dead interred in the churchyard, followed by musket salutes fired by the militia.
The ceremonies continue with a march down Duke of Gloucester Street to the Courthouse where the names of all of the service members who have died during Operation Iraqi Freedom will be read. The final stop in the march will be the gravesites near the Williamsburg Inn of French allies killed at the Battle of Yorktown. Following a declaration of appreciation for the French soldiers’ aid in the final victory of the American Revolution, a third wreath is laid and a militia artillery crew fires three final salutes.
In keeping with the Civil War-era origin of Memorial Day, women place the memorial wreaths at each location. The public is encouraged to attend and participate in the ceremony honoring the nation’s fallen soldiers.
Colonial Williamsburg offers a special Military Hotel Package that includes two nights at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites, a Length of Stay Pass only available to Colonial Williamsburg hotel guests that includes Historic Area admission and 50 percent off of all evening programs for $29 adults, $14.50 for children, and a continental breakfast. Military packages begin at $77 per person, per night based on double occupancy.
Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that operates the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia. Known worldwide as the nation’s largest living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg recently was recognized as the “Best Historic Site” by readers of Southern Living magazine for the seventh straight year. Colonial Williamsburg is located just 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For information or reservations, call toll-free (800) HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at www.colonialwilliamsburg.org.
Lorraine C. Brooks